Notebook: Belichick raves about Steelers

PITTSBURGH – Bill Belichick can be a dull interview, but the coach of the New England Patriots became fiery when a Pittsburgh reporter asked what he's seen so far from the Steelers.

"What have I seen from the Steelers?" Belichick repeated incredulously. "I can't remember two more dominating games. It hasn't even been competitive. They really look good just doing everything – offensively, defensively, special teams. They're making big plays, controlling the game, controlling the line of scrimmage. They've been more physical than both teams; the kicker hasn't missed; the punter never has to punt. It's been about as dominating as you can get."

Belichick even praised the Steelers', ahem, uneventful preseason games before getting back on topic.

"They got so far ahead so early that they just cut loose all their blitzes and nobody can stop them. They run the ball, control the game, control the clock. They're tough."

Belichick was asked if the Steelers would be any different with Plaxico Burress still on the team.

"Do you think they would have been ahead more than 20-0 at the half against Houston? Or up 37-7 or whatever it was against Tennessee? How much worse would it have been? I don't know. It looked pretty bad to me."

Belichick was stumped by one question: Would he have felt less confident taking over as offensive coordinator with anyone else beside Tom Brady at quarterback?

"Is this some kind of trick question?" Belichick said. "Look, I'm not the offensive coordinator here. I'm the head coach and our offense is coached by our offensive staff. Each of them has a different responsibility. That's how we do it. I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for here but that's honestly how it runs."

MY OLD TEAM(S)

Mike Vrabel, formerly of the Steelers, said it's not the Patriots' system that turned him into the player he is today.

"If you ask Bill Cowher, I think I was pretty close when I left," he said. "I was pretty close to where I would have been able to step in. I think they knew the situation. It wasn't just some magic dust that Bill Belichick has."

Speaking of old teams, Vrabel was asked if he ever gets a chance to watch the "scarlet and black."

"Scarlet and black?" Vrabel asked.

"Yeah, Ohio State," the reporter said.

"Oh Jesus, it's the scarlet and gray," Vrabel said.

DEALING WITH THE HEAT

Steelers right guard Kendall Simmons played every snap in Houston, which had a field temperature of close to 120 degrees at game time. He said he held up well.

"It was hot as hell in the first quarter but you get used to it," he said. "In the second half, even Tommy said it was hotter the second half than it was the first half, but I couldn't tell the difference."

A diabetic, Simmons said that in spite of the breaks he often took at training camp, he wasn't affected by the heat then, either.

"I just had to keep my sugar level and stuff situated," he said. "The heat didn't bother me. I'd have one of those days like the doctor said I would. That's all it was. The heat didn't bother me at all."

Simmons said he's "slowly knocking the rust off" after missing last season with a knee injury.

"I'm just getting back at it and I think I'm doing OK. I'm doing well enough to help the line do pretty good. There's little stuff here and there -- not missing an assignment, just that technique stuff."

INJURY REPORT

Jerome Bettis (calf) and wide receiver Sean Morey (hamstring) were the only Steelers to miss Wednesday's practice. Bettis is doubtful and Morey, cornerback Bryant McFadden (calf) and running back Duce Staley (knee) are listed as questionable.

The Patriots list 12 players as questionable, including cornerbacks Randall Gay (ankle), Tyrone Poole (ankle), Chad Scott (shoulder) and Duane Starks (thigh). All four missed at least a portion of Wednesday's practice. Their only healthy cornerbacks are Asante Samuel and rookie Ellis Hobbs.

The other Patriots listed as questionable are: LB Tully Banta-Cain (knee), WR Andre Davis (foot), OT Brandon Gorin (thigh), DE Jarvis Green (shoulder), WR Bethel Johnson (thigh), P Josh Miller (shoulder), OG Steve Neal (back) and S James Sanders (ankle).

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